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Joe Milton’s progress updated by Jim Harbaugh after Rutgers performance

The arrow continues to point upward for the young quarterback.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 28 Rutgers at Michigan

Joe Milton was given the keys to the second-team offense last week in practice ahead of the Rutgers game with Dylan McCaffrey sidelined and the early returns were positive for the redshirt freshman quarterback. Milton finished the game 3-for-4 with 59 yards passing and a 23-yard touchdown strike (emphasis on strike) to freshman wideout Giles Jackson in the fourth quarter.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh spoke about his performance and what Michigan saw from their signal-caller in the game against Rutgers.

“Joe was good. He’s gotta feel, coming out of the game, good about himself,” Harbaugh told reporters on Monday. “We feel good about the way he played. He’s had some consecutive good weeks of practice, had another good one today. I thought he played really well.

“The touchdown throw was really good. He and Giles Jackson made an adjustment during the play. That was not the design of the play to have Giles turn out. Some people were talking about that they weren’t doing what they were supposed to be doing but I informed them of my policy of not getting upset about touchdowns. We looked at it on the film. Giles did not break out on the route, Joe threw it to the open area. Joe made the adjustment and Giles adjusted his route to the throw which was a plus by Joe, plus-plus by Giles. I thought that was really good.”

Milton came out of high school and into Ann Arbor as a quarterback with as massive an arm as any in the country, but equally as raw and unrefined. Accuracy and touch on his throws were among some of the bigger things that needed to be developed and Harbaugh says that facet of his game continues to come along in practice.

“He’s worked on it. Different ball flights, different appropriate throws. Not everything is a line-drive fastball,” Harbaugh said. “There’s a lot of elevation. There’s medium elevation, there’s a shorter throwing motion for shorter throws to make a catchable ball for a runner. Joe has responded and really worked on it. It’s not an easy thing to do. Probably, in the history of football, we can all think about the quarterbacks who never did understand throwing it with touch or throwing the fastball or, when needed, the appropriate throw for the appropriate down.

“He’s working really hard at it and he’s coming along really well. It’s really important to him, which is a must. It has to be that way to really get better, and better, and better. Realizing there’s always something to work on and something to improve. He’s approached that with a real great attitude in that way as well. We love Joe and it’s fun to watch him develop. Keep it rolling.”

Milton is expected to once again back up Shea Patterson for this weekend’s game against Iowa with Dylan McCaffrey mentioned as being doubtful to return this week from the concussion he suffered at Wisconsin. Whether or not there is a position battle between he and McCaffrey when he returns remains to be seen, but if it is not this year, spring and fall camp in 2020 should feature a pretty interesting race between those two quarterbacks.